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The Daily Memphian | The Early Word
The Early Word: FedEx has good news, bad news; mayoral poll favors three

Top o’ the mornin’ to you, friends! It’s March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, and yes, I am wearing green pajamas. (It’s early, y’all.)

If you’re wondering where to get green beer tonight, look no further than our To-Do List. You’ll find info on several St. Pat’s parties there, including Celtic Crossing’s 17-hour party that starts at 9 a.m.

If you’d rather wear Tiger blue tonight in support of the Memphis Tigers’ first-round NCAA match-up with Florida Athletic, you’ll surely get a pass. And the Memphis Grizzlies play the San Antonio Spurs tonight, too. It’s a big night for basketball.

It may be a little chilly on Saturday, but you can still celebrate spring at the Memphis Botanic Garden’s annual Cherry Blossom Picnic. In the afternoon, 901FC has a road game against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. And later that night, the Golden State Warriors will be back at the Grindhouse to play the Grizzlies. 


A March 16, 2023, report shows FedEx has logged another weak quarter. FedEx reported $22.2 billion in revenue, compared to the $23.6 billion it announced during the same period in 2022. (The Daily Memphian file)

Things could be worse at FedEx: FedEx’s third quarter earnings were released on Thursday, and the news wasn’t great. But it could have been worse. After more than $3 billion in cost-cutting initiatives for fiscal year 2023, the Memphis-based company reported $22.2 billion in revenue, compared to $23.6 billion during the same period in fiscal year 2022. The numbers, which have been down for several consecutive quarters, continue to be impacted by “demand weakness,” according to FedEx. But despite earnings being down, the company’s stock was up more than 10%.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said if local leaders don’t find a solution to violent juvenile crime, “we’ll be living out this vicious nightmare over and over again.” The county launched its Youth & Family Resource Center in April. (Ziggy Mack/Special to The Daily Memphian)

Solutions to juvenile crime: In our ongoing “Minor Offenders, Major Offenses” series on juvenile crime, we’ve looked at the rise in auto thefts and car break-ins by minors, as well as the trend toward juveniles committing more violent crimes. But what’s being done about those issues? Plenty, it seems from today’s story by Julia Baker and Ian Round. They look at the solutions to the county’s juvenile crime problem, which range from summer camp programs and a county Youth and Family Resource Center to proposed legislation that would allow more juvenile offenders to be tried and sentenced as adults.

Memphis mayoral candidates as of February 6, 2023. Top row: (left to right) Floyd Bonner Jr., Joe Brown, Karen Camper, Frank Colvett. Bottom row: (left to right) J.W. Gibson, Michelle McKissack, Van Turner Jr., Paul Young. (The Daily Memphian file)

Mayoral poll favors three: An early Memphis mayoral poll shows the three candidates who may be impacted by city charter residency restrictions to be leading the race. Memphis NAACP President Van Turner came in at a rate of 17%, and former mayor Willie Herenton and Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner were tied at 15%. All three candidates could be out of the race if the city’s five-year residency requirement is enforced. The poll, conducted by Caissa Public Strategy, also found that 43% of voters said the city should increase the number of police officers, even if it meant paying more taxes. 



Ja Morant at the Memphis Grizzlies’ annual open practice on Oct. 9, 2022, at the FedExForum. The NBA has suspended Morant until March 20. (Brad Vest/Special to The Daily Memphian file)

I am not affiliated with any gang. ... I do not condone any type of violence. It is on me from now on to be a better Ja and stop that narrative.

— Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant
Morant’s full interview with ESPN’s Jalen Rose aired Thursday on Rose’s YouTube channel. In it, Morant expressed regret to his family and teammates after an Instagram Live video that appeared to show Morant holding a gun went viral and led to an eight-game suspension from the NBA. He also addressed gang rumors that were circulated by the national media.



Memphis Tigers teammates DeAndre Williams (left) and Kendric Davis (right) spoke during media availability at the NCAA tournament on Thursday, March 16, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian)

Dynamic Tigers duo: Tonight, when the Memphis Tigers take on the Florida Atlantic Owls in their first-round NCAA match-up, the Tigers’ two star players — Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams — are expected to be the team’s top scorers. The “best one-two punch in the country,” as Davis calls them, have combined to score nearly 40 points on an every-game basis. Davis will be playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time, and he has high expectations: “I want to be remembered as one of the Memphis greats,” he said, adding himself to a list that includes Larry Finch, Keith Lee and Coach Penny Hardaway. And he may be on to something: The Daily Memphian’s Geoff Calkins points out how Davis “has already assembled one of the greatest seasons” in Tigers’ history. In other Tournament news, there’s a new 901 Fund T-shirt inspired by a nutty Alex Lomax moment. And in other Tigers basketball news, the women’s team beat Jackson State, 79-68, on Thursday in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

“We anticipate that, when fully implemented, this rule will prevent thousands of deaths and prevent tens of thousands of serious PFAS-related illnesses,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP file)

Something in the water: A new proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency would tighten restrictions on “forever chemicals” in drinking water across the country, including in Tennessee. Known as PFAS, these chemicals accumulate in the environment and the human body and don’t degrade easily (hence the “forever” part), and they tend to migrate into groundwater. It’s not clear if the Memphis Sand Aquifer is contaminated with PFAS, but we may find out very soon. 

The Veggie Pete at Sam’s Deli is loaded with spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, onions and jalapeños. (Joshua Carlucci/Special to The Daily Memphian)

Fiber is sexy: Now, here’s a $10 deal I can get behind. Daily Memphian guest writer Joshua Carlucci, who says he’s typically “a beef and lamb shawarma” kind of guy, is working on his “perfect beach bod.” So, on a recent trip to Sam’s Deli, Carlucci opted for the Veggie Pete, a vegetarian sandwich that’s heavy on fiber: spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, onions and jalapeños. “It’s a great sandwich — light, but filling. Layered in flavor, and all without the meat,” he writes. Even better? The sandwich is only $7.50, so you’ll have enough money left for dessert.

University of Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield tried to get players’ attention during a Oct. 7, 2022, game against the University of Houston. (Patrick Lantrip/The Daily Memphian file)

Close calls: The Memphis Tigers football team kicks off open practice this Sunday, and Coach Ryan Silverfield has his work cut out for him. The Tigers have struggled for the past two seasons under his leadership, especially in close games. In the 36 games that Silverfield has coached over the past three years, 18 of them have been decided by one possession. The Daily Memphian’s Frank Bonner II takes a deeper look at those tight games.



On Thursday, Memphis drag performer (and ordained minister) Bella DuBalle was the guest on NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross to discuss Tennessee’s new ban on public drag shows. You can listen to (or read) the story here.

Don’t forget to wear green (or blue) today! I’m off to make an Irish coffee (hey, Friday is my early day), and I’ll see you on the first day of spring.